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Beyond Mecktoberfest, these other events could spread coronavirus

The newly released data includes weddings, funerals, and religious events where people who attended later tested positive for the coronavirus.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County health officials released new data Friday about potential super spreader events after the WCNC Charlotte Defenders team started asking questions.

It comes as WCNC Charlotte learns two people tested positive, after attending Mecktoberfest at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery last month. Anyone who attended the event can be tested for free at the brewery from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Health officials are not calling Mecktoberfest a super spreader event right now, but they say it has the potential to be, which is why they’re urging people who attended to get tested.

RELATED: NC COVID-19 numbers show alarming spike in cases since mid-July

RELATED: Did you attend Mecktoberfest? Health officials say you may want to get tested for COVID-19.

The newly released data says events such as these have proven to be frequent places where coronavirus is spread:

  • weddings
  • funerals
  • religious events 

Those who test positive, frequently attended such a event, officials said.

The term “super spreader” event captured national news headlines after the ceremony to announce the nomination of Amy Coney Barret to the Supreme Court. However, closer to home, county health officials are not ready to give Mecktoberfest that label.

“Does it have the potential to become a super spreader event? Absolutely. Would I label it a super spreader event? No,” said Mecklenburg County Deputy Health Director Dr. Raynard Washington.

At this point, two people have tested positive, after attending the event at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery last month, but Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said there are likely more cases out there.

After the Defenders team started asking questions, health officials released a list of other events involving possible COVID 19 exposure. Since the beginning of August, there have been 97 family gatherings, 24 wedding-related events, 23 religious services at places of worship, and 14 funerals where someone tested positive within 14 days of attending, according to the data. Health officials are now recommending organizers of large events to keep a registry with names and contact information of those attending.

“In the case of Mecktoberfest, we would have not necessarily had to do a public notification, we could have just notified everyone that was in attendance,” said Dr. Washington.

RELATED: Mecklenburg County health leaders concerned about safety guidelines & mask compliance at bars

RELATED: Gov. Cooper: Coronavirus metrics are rising again in NC

In April, the founder of Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, John Marino described his frustration about the state shutdown during a video podcast with Charlotte city councilman, Tariq Bokhari.  During the podcast, Marino said the virus largely does not impact young people.

“The hysteria around this has gotten us a little bit far removed from the best way to handle it,” said Marino during the podcast.

This week, Olde Mecklenburg Brewery released a statement saying, "OMB has always and will continue to work diligently to ensure that we comply with and adhere to all county, state and national health regulations and recommendations.

It is also perhaps the easiest place in town to enjoy a beer or a meal with friends while social distancing."

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